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Citizen Kane (1941)


Welcome to the world's most over-hyped movie ever!
Welcome to the world's most over-hyped movie ever!

Genre: Drama Mystery

Starring: Orson Welles (Touch of Evil The Lady from Shanghai), Joseph Cotten (Shadow of a Doubt The Third Man)

Directed By: Orson Welles (The Stranger  Magnificent Ambersons)

Overview: As newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane dies, a snow globe falling out of his hand, he whispering the word 'Rosebud'. The press opens their net in search of the meaning of Kane's last words in hopes that it may reveal the a mystery about this great man's life.

And no, this post contains no spoilers pertaining to the meaning of the opening line / dying breath of our Great Citizen Charles Foster Kane. 


Once I was at Blockbuster, renting some foreign film, and the clerk asked, "you ARE aware that this is subtitled. Is that ok?" My eyebrow-raised response was "seriously, how many people change their minds when you tell them that?" "About half," he said. Granted that's the Blockbuster crowd, but I was still floored by that answer. I'm also reminded of Steph, an acquaintance who told me, "As if, I have a rule that I won't watch movies older than *I* am." All that to say, there's two kinds of people in this world: those who've seen Citizen Kane, and those who haven't. 

Citizen Kane's got balls.
Citizen Kane's got balls... Well, globes at least


I genuinely believe Citizen Kane is one of THE motion pictures that separates the movie-goer from the Film-Fan (notice the subtle yet derogatory capitalization). Love it or hate it, seeing, in this day and age, a black and white movie from 1941 just because 'all these dudes' at AFI said it's the best movie ever made puts you in a place few people go. I'm one of those people, and odds are, you are too. Sorry about not having a review of Bridesmaid or The Hangover II on my 'Coming Soon Reviews' page. I'm too busy.

I will however address those who haven't seen Citizen Kane. Of ye, there's those who don't know 'the secret' and there's those who've had the mystery spoiled for you, who know exactly what 'Rosebud' refers to. It's a shame. Citizen Kane is one of the top three already-spoiled-at-birth films out there, jammed right between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Soylent Green. To you I say, and I can't stress this enough: Rosebud is NOT what Citizen Kane is about. Knowing the answer might make you get the life-lesson being taught half way through the movie instead of the end. That's it. It's Drama before Mystery. It's not Murder on the Orient Express. Knowing changes nothing. Don't believe me? Let me quote the film:

Female reporter: If you [could find] out what Rosebud meant, I bet that [would explain] everything.
Thompson: No, I don't think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn't [explain] anything... I don't think any word can explain a man's life.

What Citizen Kane is about is those last three quoted words: a man's life. A man who was rich, and died and what brought him to become the man he was. But rather than a gaze at a timeline, the film also manages to have quite a significant plot, a flow uncommon of typical character studies, and a style that gives critics a raging hard-on. It's unique, it's bigger than life, it's shot well and different, and it's damn beautiful. On top of everything else, it's rife with controversy, because rather than being 'any similarity to anyone living or dead is coincidental', it's a carbon copy of a man who was very much alive and who fought tooth and nail to have this film buried. There's even a movie about THAT bloody battle. Citizen Kane appeals to the visual senses, and over-the-top hyped as it may be, it's definitely worth a viddy. Shift your paradigm. Simply swap Kane's hype with that of any other popular film from that generation. There you go, now watch without expectation of life-changing influences.


I always loved that picture.
I always loved that picture.

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 9 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 84% (Yes You Should, And Yes You Kane.)

And P.S. it's not my favourite movie either, nor is it in my personal top 100, but it's decent and worth it and most definitely belongs as one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Another mind-blowingly impressive fact about Citizen Kane is that it was Orson Welles' feature film directorial debut.

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